Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Bearing Witness

For six long years, the region of Darfur has been a bloodbath and we, the world, have had a front row seat to this debacle that has clamed the lives of over 400,000 Darfurians and has uprooted over 2.5 million. But now, all that could change when the International Criminal Court will decide whether or not to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir whom is said to be directly responsible for the genocide taking place in Darfur. If the warrant is issued, al-Bashir would be the third head of state to be charged with crimes against humanity following Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic and Liberia's Charles Taylor.
Darfur of course, isn’t the only place where people are being killed and oppressed. For over a century, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has seen the darkest and brutal oppression by Belgian colonists killing and working to death millions of Congolese during the 1900’s. Now, as the conflict between the government and the rebels intensify, thousands of civilians are being uprooted and thousands more are dying from a lack of food, poor health, and violence. One of the most tragic aspects of the crisis in the DRC, are the thousands of women who are a target of sexual assaults by both rebels, the government soldiers, and even the U.N. peacekeepers who are supposed to protect them in the first place.
When I first started my activism for Darfur in 2006, I was sometimes overwhelmed with the magnitude of the violence in Darfur. But from I learned about past genocides like Rwanda, a deep-seeded anger bubbled up and I was determined that I would not be passive or ignorant while a genocide or any injustice was taking place. Last year was a very busy year with organizing and hosting a photo exhibition about Darfur, giving numerous presentations, and being able to go to Washington, D.C. (My second trip was for winning the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s essay contest) and meeting various individuals who are becoming the change they want to see in the world. What I have come to learn is that once a person become’s involved with a worthy cause, they can move mountains.
With a new President dedicated to change, this is a moment of truth not only for this nation, but the world over. Increasing pressure to those in power to use their influence and bring about peace in both the DRC and Darfur is absolutely vital. It is also important to support the work of the ICC to bring those responsible of crimes against humanity to justice. This would insure that if any rouge leader should think twice about committing genocide and war.
For the millions of people whom are suffering during never ending violence all over, we, the activist, have becoming a beacon for hope. Our efforts for peace and justice are very strong, since every human in this planet is equal. For those in power who talk the talk, it’s time to start walking the walk. Until that happens, ordinary people will, as Gandhi once said “be the change you want to see in the world.”